HIV Awareness Day

Today, we have guest contributor Annette Magnus, from Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada:

Saturday is National HIV Testing Day and Planned Parenthood encourages you to take the first and most important step and get yourself tested.

Here are some facts to make sure you are informed about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV is transmitted in blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk.  Exposure to any of these fluids can put you at risk for HIV, which is most commonly spread through sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal, or oral), syringe or needle sharing, blood or blood products (rare in the United States) or being exposed to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding.  HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 million people in the United States are infected with HIV and of those 1 million people, one out of five do not know they are infected.  For this reason, testing for HIV is crucial.  The CDC reports that in Nevada through 2007, 3,855 cumulative HIV cases were reported and 6,124 cumulative HIV/AIDS cases reported.

Getting tested for HIV is a normal part of health care and it is also really simple! The CDC recommends that everyone know their HIV status.  Tests are available from Planned Parenthood health centers and most physicians, hospitals and health clinics.  Local, state and federal health departments often offer free testing. Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada has three local health centers that offer rapid HIV testing. To find the Las Vegas health center nearest you or to learn more about HIV and AIDS, visit pprm.org or call 1-800-230-PLAN.

So please, in honor of National HIV Testing Day, get yourself tested and take a friend to do the same because knowing your status is important and it is a great way to respect yourself and the people who are the most important to you.

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